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Autumn Magic! Fall Leaves, Mod Podge, and Food Coloring
Submitted by Pam on Thu, 09/20/2012 - 03:42
Not a leaf! The "leaves" on this vase are 100% Mod Podge "film" tinted with a few drops of food coloring.
Same for this garland! Tinted Mod Podge film "leaves" glued to a piece of raffia! Beautiful when the light makes them glow.
You have seen the candles on the left before. They were created by applying Mod Podge to the jar, sticking on dried, pressed fall leaves and then applying another coat of Mod Podge.
The candle on the right - the leaves themselves are actually Mod Podge film tinted with food coloring.
A little close-up. These are not real leaves - they are a tinted Mod Podge film.
I am having so much fun playing with Mod Podge tinted with food coloring in this new way. And it is all because of a "whoops"!
Remember the very cool leaves I shared last fall. the pigments had migrated into some fascinating and unusual designs.
They remained in the press all winter and summer, and I just pulled them out a week or so ago to "preserve" them with Mod Podge so they could be enjoyed during the coming fall season.
After coating with Mod Podge, all my beautiful leaves are back to their brilliant selves and no longer brittle and fragile.
Unfortunately, I must have been pretty tired when I applied a second coat because the next morning I found a big ole glob of Mod Podge skin dried to the surface of one of the leaves. The surface of one of my favorite leaves.
But in the end, this mistake became inspiration for creating the transparent "leaves" above!
I attempted to remove the ugly glob, thinking I could rescue the leaf with more Mod Podge!
I was successful in removing the glob but not without also removing a section of the layer of Mod Podge on the surface of the leaf.
Hummmmmmmmmmm…. maybe it would be possible to peel off the entire film! Then the leaf could be recoated in Mod Podge. Good idea!
And, as I found out, it is possible to remove the entire Mod Podge layer! And in one piece! And look at the cool imprint of the veins and cells!!!
Of course, I had to try another leaf to just be sure this was not a fluke! It was not!
Removing the Mod Podge film from the surface of the leaf is not difficult, but it does requires a bit of patience.
Gently, gently, gently work an Xacto blade between the leaf and the Mod Podge coating and release the Mod Podge "leaf" from the real leaf.
Practice with one or two until you get the feel of it.
Having pressed several "plain" red leaves, I decided to sacrifice them in the interest of science and removed the Mod Podge film from a third leaf!
It works best to begin at the stem end - even making a tiny slit in the Mod Podge film if necessary in order to work the blade in between the two layers.
While working at removing the film layer from the second leaf, I suddenly got the idea to try adding yellow, red and orange food color to Mod Podge, brush it on the leaf surface, let it dry and peel it off!
So I did! Using the three leaves I had just peeled, I brushed on one coat of each color.
Seeing the brilliant color surrounding the leaf the next morning I started getting pretty excited.
I applied a second coat and let it dry.
Once dry, I got pretty excited seeing how the tinted film was coloring the leaf surface - I was pretty darn sure that the Mod Podge layer was going to be very colorful and pretty once it was removed.
I love it when I am right!! And I love the look of the nearly transparent Mod Podge leaves! Especially how every vein and cell is captured and preserved.
Since the colored film will stick to glass - at least for a bit - and since I was very eager to see how they would look with light coming through them…
I pressed them onto the surface of a "vase"…
and a candle jar.
Happy with the results, I decided to make them a permanent part of the vase and slapped on a coat of Mod Podge, gently pressed the colorful little beauties onto the wet surface and then applied another coat of Mod Podge.
Although my leaves held their shape they lost all the lovely veins and details of the original leaf surface. And they dried bubbly. So instead of a lovely veined texture, I had a smooth and some what bubbly texture.
Not particularly pretty. And very, very disappointing.
But no way was I giving up! I just had to come up with a better mounting solution!
So I coated two more leaves with Mod Podge. And this time, I actually brushed the colored Mod Podge over two leaves on which I had already applied two coats of clear, uncolored Mod Podge.
Look at how cool they turned out! Remember - these are not real leaves but just a film of pure Mod Podge.
The leaves were applied to the glass candle jar using spray adhesive, making sure the entire "leaf" surface was gently pressed onto the adhesive to prevent bubbling.
The frosted look the adhesive spray gave the glass is a happy bonus!
Once the adhesive dried, I over-sprayed with matte acrylic spray. And presto! My beautiful film leaves are perfectly preserved - and retain the texture embedded in the transparent leaf.
Hopefully, some of you reading will be inspired to start playing with this technique and then share where you take it from here!
All sorts of things could probably be done with paper, canvas, fabric even!
I am thinking that I've only scratched the surface!
Before I let you go however, I want to pass along a few things I learned along the way.
1. Apply the Mod Podge to the top surface of the leaf. I think the natural waxy top surface tends to release the Mod Podge more readily than the under side.
2. Apply at least two coats of Mod Podge, allowing both coats to dry thoroughly - at least 12 hours. Let dry overnight before attempting to separate the film from the leaf.
I preferred using two coats of clear Mod Podge and then two coats of tinted.
3. I am sure additional coats will intensify the color, but honestly, two tinted coats seemed to be just fine.
4. While yellow and orange seemed to work beautifully, red tint seemed to show the brush marks and unevenness of application. (You can clearly see this problem in the image of all three leaves above.)
I encountered this problem both times I used red tinted Mod Podge. Perhaps a foam brush would be a better tool for this particular color.
5. The stems are very brittle - at least mine are after a year in the press. This was not a problem for me because, as I discovered when applying fall leaves to mason jars a few years ago, the stems often prevent the leaves from lying flat.
OK now - go play and let me know how this works out for you! I am always available to answer questions.
I have also been experimenting with "Mod Podge film" to make teeny tiny little leaves which will be used to make a leaf and candle crown for my Santa Lucia! Check it out here!
ADDED OCTOBER 17, 2012: Good news! Mod Podge is available world wide! Check out the link below to find a supplier near you!